Jenks fire fighters take complete course on swift water training
Members of the Jenks Fire Department got a crash course on swift water training late last month.
Jenks fire and rescue crew visited two separate locations to get the training. They visited Jenks Aquatic Center and Siloam Springs Kayak Park for the preparations.
Members of the fire department do the training regularly depending on level of training. Ops does it every two years, technicians do it annually.
Even though swift water incidents rarely occur in Jenks, fire and rescue officials still believe it’s important.
“We have to be well versed in all types of rescue scenarios and rescue training is one of them,” assistant chief Kyle Zickefoose said. “We don’t have a lot of swift water training although we don’t have a lot of swift water in the Jenks area. We do have a river that runs through it and when it comes up it does become the kind of swift water environment we need training for.”
The fire department made its first stop at the Jenks Aquatic Center for swimming skills.
There, members tested treading water and strength with exercises such as retrieving heavy items on the pool floor with all gear on.
After that, the rescue trainees worked on boat deployment and command codes. Each member took a turn being the lead of a rescue vessel and memorized the codes.
From there, the fire department took to real waters at Siloam Springs Kayak Park for swift water training. The crew got to experience some of the tough conditions they may face in a controlled environment.
“There’s some real-world training you need to do but you want it to do it as safe as possible and the kayak park was a good place for that,” Zickefoose said. “It was as safe of an environment we could provide but still get real world applications. We had our (personal floatation devices) and we practiced navigating some of the rapids with just us and our safety gear going over the rapids.”
There aren’t many that are certified water techs, but the fire department hopes to see that number rise.
“We do have personnel that is swift water tech certified but we’re just trying to get the whole department up to swift water operations,” Zickefoose said. “Here in the coming months we’re going to have some volunteers that will become swift water techs, which means they’ll actually be doing the hands-on rescue operations.”
Zickefoose said the training is imperative to ensure the safety of citizens as well as first responders.
“It’s so we can provide the best service we can provide to our citizens and be prepared,” he said. “But, at the same time, it helps protect us as much as possible to have that training and know what we’re doing and have the skills necessary to provide those services.”